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  • Writer's pictureAlyesha Wise

Love in Distance

Updated: Apr 19, 2021

I was invited to write for an online publication in response to a tweet of mine [pictured below] that went viral. This was my first complete draft (with few edits). I eventually opted to not proceed with their article for my personal reasons. However, I am grateful for the opportunity. Here is what I wrote.

She is my longest friendship of about 15 years.

She was also my first serious relationship of 3.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Our love has done what it knows how to do. It showed up. It needed to breathe. It took a breath (that we didn’t expect to return to). It evolved. Our friendship-love now lives in our continued interest in each other’s lives. Our love is plenty of belly laughs, funny gifts and serious advice. It disagrees sometimes. It has been plenty of after-the-club sleepovers with me passed out on her living room floor, snoring next to the dog. We have met all of each other’s partners, sent cards and sipped wine after breakups, have given our opinion and have decided when not to intrude. When I married my husband in 2018, our love was present, with my bestie as my best girl at the wedding (His ex-girlfriends were invited, too). Our love has traveled between three cities and is currently very long distance. Today, I live in Los Angeles and she lives in Philly. I rarely get to see my bestie. But, this isn’t all about her. I rarely see half my friends anymore—the ones back home who I can only visit once or, if I’m lucky, twice a year, and not at all since the covid-19 pandemic.

My already long-distance relationships now feel more distanced. Since covid, I have less energy to pick up the phone. I’m on electronic devices and screens all day. Therefore, my capacity to speak to anyone, on a device, is often reserved for check-ins with my mother. In this feeling, I know I am not alone.

I share a piece of that guilt floating around—from not returning calls when I said I would, to not taking risks to visit my people. Lately, guilt and missing family has been the hardest part of connection for me, not loneliness. Yet, I am grateful, for I have learned to love without attachment (hence, my best friend) and I have learned to value distant connection. I’ll name some of the experiences that have shaped me.

My parents divorced when I was only 5. Yet, I can’t recall ever hearing them argue. Till this day, they mostly speak gently about one another, committed to seeing each other fully. My mother has been remarried for 24 years. My father is very recently engaged, and his fiance loves him deeply. Throughout this, the friendship between my parents has not withered.

My husband and I never lived closer than at least 150 miles for the first year and a half of our relationship. At one point, we lived as far apart as Leeds, England and Philly (He was a traveling poet). It was tough, but intriguing. Most of my previous relationships failed because we thought being present was enough.

Then, there was that one situation I will not expand on, except that he was the only polyamorous partner I have ever truly had. We lasted about 7 months. He was... messy, to summarize. However, I was introduced to a type of intimacy that felt too liberating to be false. And, for that, I am forever changed.

My overall experiences haven’t always been these profound Jerry Springer moments during each episode. The ones that have turned into teachable lessons, however, have shown me the very thin line between a bond and a transaction, the freedom of intimacy and the fear of losing it.

As a friend or a lover, I am committed to being present when my people need me and I expect the same in return. When absolutely possible. We might disagree about that possibility, sometimes. We may feel betrayed and ask why someone close wasn’t around enough or when we believe they should have been. That’s human. What is also human are the ways that we can discuss our disagreements and decide to better navigate these situations to grow better together, or on our own.

Perhaps consider, for a moment, your initial response when I first introduced to you my best friend. Is there a chance that your reaction, if any, might be rooted in heteronormativity and the idea that love can only be alive in a hardcore commitment between two people? That a relationship is about ownership defined by loyalty? You’ve witnessed it before—in the make-ups and break-ups between couples and friends—others and your own, crumbling due to outdated opinions on how love “should” be. And, yes, ending it all, immediately, is often very necessary. However, if you believe in all or nothing, why must a connection halt once the relationship changes shape? Love changes shape, too. Love is too powerful of a feeling to be simplified.

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